My husband and I are avid scuba enthusiasts, and we have been diving all over the world in our 23 years of scuba certification. I enjoy quilting when I'm not cooking. Six years ago, I shed some 112 pounds after an illness, but still enjoy cooking for my husband and grown kids. Our older child, a son, is an attorney, and our daughter is a PA (Physician Assistant.) Life sure is different when you wear a size 2, but as I tell my family, just because I don't eat anymore doesn't mean I can't cook. Cooking is my life-line. It keeps me connected. My family blessed me with a rich culinary heritage, and I began learning early. My mom went back to college for her masters in education when I was still in high school, so I cooked dinner for my family on many occasions. Food is the great equalizer. Rich or poor, there are few who don't experience a truly visceral enjoyment via great food. For me, few pleasures equal creating something that makes people moan with near-ecstasy!
My favorite things to cook
Anything Italian, as that's my family background. Love to bake - cakes, cookies, breads, pies. Love Oriental cuisine. Originally trained classically in France, then completed chef training at Johnson and Wales University (Providence, RI - the one that Emeril graduated from, although I graduated a couple of years after him) with a degree in Culinary Arts. I've worked as an executive chef for a private school, a caterer, culinary instructor, and a pastry chef. I then went into food journalism and wrote restaurant reviews for the newspaper and several magazines.
My favorite family cooking traditions
To Italian families, food is a source of joy and celebration. We dream about it, talk about it, anticipate it, savor it, share it. Home made pasta continues to be a staple, as are creamy risottos. My dad and I together developed an atypical barbecue sauce that never fails to draw raves. But, because of a promise I made my dad decades ago, I can't part with the recipe, except to those who share his (and my) bloodline! Speaking of bloodlines, neither of my kids caught the culinary bug. They'd rather come here and have mom make a meal for them. I will be forever grateful to my mother for instilling in my heart a love of all facets of baking, including breads, fruit pies, cakes and cookies. Christmas cookies are a major tradition here. In fact, of all the things I make, it has occurred to me over the years that everyone is universally into cookies. If the world concentrated on baking more cookies, we'd be one giant step closer to world peace.
My cooking triumphs
Beef Wellington, veal Prince Orloff, home made fruit sorbets and ice creams of all stripes (like mango, cranberry with red wine, kiwi, pomegranate (before anyone ever knew what it was!), vertical layer cake wrapped in white and bittersweet chocolate ribbons, and Marcel Desaulnier's (of The Trellis) Death By Chocolate, hands down the most labor-intensive (and murderously, artery-cloggingly scrumptious) dessert I ever made. Think days, not hours.
My cooking tragedies
One night as a brand new bride, about a week after returning from our honeymoon, I made my husband ocean perch for dinner, poached in white wine with fresh lemon and herbs. I was so excited about introducing him to the magic of French cuisine! When I lifted the lid of the pan, DH who had just come home from work, wrinkled his nose, made a godawful face, and said, "It smells like someone puked in here." I cried buckets. I never, EVER, made that recipe again (even though I thought it tasted fantastic!) obviously. Fortunately, I can't recall any more dinners in some 39 years of marriage that have elicited even a vaguely similar reaction.